Current Contract Poultry and Livestock Farmers: If you have questions or need help, please call RAFI-USA’s Farmer Hotline at 866.586.6746.
At RAFI-USA, we believe that “contract farming” in itself is not a bad thing. Contracts can be a very useful tool for farmers to reduce their risk and plan cash-flow. RAFI-USA supports the use of transparent and fairly negotiated contracts in many agricultural transactions including with employees or buyers.
But many livestock production contracts, like those designed for broiler growers, can be misleading and complex. Many farmers who sign these contracts find themselves in a bad financial situation a few years down the road. At RAFI-USA we have worked with contract poultry growers for over 30 years and have heard many stories of long-term debt, unpredictable and highly variable pay, small or negative revenues bankruptcy, and loss of farm and home.
If you are considering signing a poultry or livestock production contract, or if you currently have one, the most important step to protecting your farm is to know the risks.
Resources to Read Before You Sign
- Questions to Ask Before Signing a Poultry Contract: Have this guide in hand to better understand your risk before you sign. Ask the field techs, and ask other farmers about their experience before you make your decision.
- A Poultry Grower’s Guide to FSA Loans: This guide will walk you through the decision-making process, help you weigh the risks and benefits of investing in a poultry operation, and understand the FSA Loan application process step-by-step.
- FLAG Publication: Livestock Production Contracts – Risks for Family Farmers: The first part of this guide is general. The second half focuses on examples from Minnesota and Iowa contracts, which are still very relevant for considering your own situation.
- FLAG Publication: Assessing the Impact of Integrator Practices on Contract Poultry Growers: In this study by FLAG and USDA, researchers surveyed 1,424 contract growers in 10 different states and report back on their main concerns. Many of these are the same concerns we hear from farmers we work with today.
Additional Resources to Read if You Already Have a Contract
- FLAG Publication: How much did your birds really weigh? Many farmers have spoken up about having their birds weighed incorrectly. In some cases this is because of direct retaliation against the farmer, in others it may be a management error. It is important to understand your rights and the process of weighing your birds.
- FLAG Publication: Are you being paid the right amount? A poultry grower’s guide to getting information about earnings. Many farmers also have pointed out errors in their paychecks or settlements. In some cases this is because of direct retaliation against the farmer, and in others it may be a management error. It is important to understand how your pay is calculated, and what information you have the right to know from your company.
We are here to help growers. We will be adding additional resources to this page over time. Please contact us if you have any questions or need additional information.